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Thread: The road to Knoydart

  1. #21
    Goon
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    Forgot to mention that because of the size of this application it will automatically go to Scottish Executive ministers for a decision and not take the normal route through the local planning authority, in this case Highland Council. Which is a pity because HC has set aside a couple of preferred areas for wind factory development, one, sadly, is the Monadh Liath just north of the Cairngorms National Park. I believe Highland Council would have knocked this one back but you never know with the Scottish Executive.
    To answer your point Jonno, the idea of setting aside a few windy areas is a good one and one which many of us have suggested but unfortunately the Government, Westminster and Edinburgh, don't have any strategy for wind factory planning. It's been left purely up to local planning authorities to decide where the developments should go and where they shouldn't go. Also, the sheer scale of this windrush (there are currently over 400 different schemes under consideration in Scotland alone) means that it's very difficult to keep on top of what's happening from a conservation point of view.
    Fortunately, one development has already been turned down because of the effect it would have had on scenic amenity. That, at least, gives us a precedent to work with.
    Finally, on the subject of local jobs, many of these big turbine developments are being built by foreign workforces and there is very little maintenance involved once the turbines are erected, so longer term jobs are very few.

  2. #22
    ‹bermensch jonno's Avatar
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    Ah, thats a shame Cameron, it seems incredible that with all their talk of saving the enviroment that the government does not have a strategy in place ,and its left to ad hoc private/local council developments.
    Surely though , a truly gigantic wind farm would require some maintenance and a visitor centre perhaps. Also the builders even if from away would have to eat and sleep etc and would provide much need ed income for an enterprising local.

  3. #23
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    Sure, I accept your point about the builders but in terms of long term local employment there are very few maintenance jobs.

  4. #24
    ‹bermensch jonno's Avatar
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    Fair enough , there probaly is,nt.
    Its a tough call , the nuclear power stations employ lots of people and generate local income and wealth but the downsides are large too.

  5. #25
    Goon JH's Avatar
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    "because of the size of this application it will automatically go to Scottish Executive ministers for a decision and not take the normal route through the local planning authority, in this case Highland Council. Which is a pity because HC has set aside a couple of preferred areas for wind factory development".......Cameron

    But I believe that if a local authority doesn't want the scheme it can object. (This might only be in England though. Not sure.)

  6. #26
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    Denmark has a higher proportion of its electricity generated by wind energy than any other country, currently around 10%. Big windmills now dot the Danish countryside, mostly on farmland, and I personally have no objection to them there.

    But that is a far cry from building wind factories on wild land.

    Last Friday, the Danish government published its energy plan (hopes?) for the next 25 years. By 2030, they hope that 30% of Denmark's energy will come from renewables - a mix of on- and off-shore wind, wave energy, solar energy and biogas (petrol and diesel from crops).

    HOWEVER. The day before the government plan was published, Denmark's two biggest electricity generators, DONG Energy and Vattenfall, released a statement that they thought that wind energy was too unstable to provide more than a small proportion of Denmark's electricity needs and they expected that coal-fired power stations would provide the bulk of electricity generation for the foreseeable future (Denmark has decided not to use nuclear generation). I quote from the statement by DONG Energy's administrative director (my translation from the Danish) " Wind energy cannot in the forseeable future solve the energy problem, because wind energy is too unstable and possibly too expensive." Vattenfall's communication's chief is quoted as saying " Coal-fired power stations will be necessary during a transitional period, while we work out how to reduce CO2 release to the atmosphere to the minimum possible."

  7. #27
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    While I think that continuing to criticise an all-out rush for wind as the only (primary?) renewable should continue to be criticised, I think JH's suggestion above is very sensible. Instead of attacking every wind factory proposal headlong, the outdoor organisations should keep it powder dry to attack the really objectionable proposals for factories on wild land - the Monadh Liath and this scheme for Locaber.

    I would have no problems If Fife and Ayrshire became dotted with windmills, and especially none if the English farmlands did - but I do object strongly to the industrialisation of our remaining wild land.

  8. #28
    Goon
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    Thanks Jim. Not only has Denmark made such a suggestion but so has Germany, Spain and Portugal. I find it curious that our own Government has chosen to ignore these reports.
    The point about not objecting to every application is of course valid, but nobody is objecting to every application. I'm not sure where this notion came from. As I've already said, there are simpply too many applications and some, like the recent one in an old open cast mine in Lanakshire, is fine by most. The problem we face is that many politicians and most of the general public would rather see wind factories on wild land as opposed to the mentioned Fife and Ayrshire. It's up to all of us to convince politicians of the worth of wild land. Fortunately, many of the areas have some kind of land protection designation, but unless it's National Park status then the power companies view all other wild land as fair game

  9. #29
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    Cameron - couldn't Bill Murray's designations of "areas of outstanding natural beauty" be used as a no go criterion for wind factories? SNH (or their predecessors) used that list for many years as a basis for strategic planning of development.

  10. #30
    Goon Reiver's Avatar
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    but unless it's National Park status then the power companies view all other wild land as fair game
    National park status has not prevented the proposed "Mega Pylons" to cut through the Cairngorm National Park!

  11. #31
    Ultra King Dave Mycroft's Avatar
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    Cameron,
    Thanks for expanding on your OP with some alternatives. I'm in total agreement with you that this development is unacceptable, and now that you've given some alternatives your point is much more balanced. The battle against windfarms in wild places is not a battle we can win alone, however, and you can't simply wish away the views of those in the energy hungry cities. To win the battle we have to convince them that wild places have a value of their own, and most importantly that there are alternatives. Offshore wind power, tidal and wave power and biomass are alternatives and I think it's vital that we mention these at every opportunity rather than simply object to proposals with no reference to them as in your OP.

    Governments and big business are spending millions of pounds trying to convince the public that the move towards more sustainable energy use and production is needed. No matter how well founded the defence of wild country is, we don't have the resources to match this. An argument simply based on a "don't do this" reasoning just gives the perception of being a negative campaign. Whilst you and I may see the value of "a little cottage in the highlands for their retirement", I'm afraid that's not going to sway the millions of people in these energy hungry cities who are having "green" and "global warming" pushed at them day in day out.

    To win this argument we need to show the positives of keeping our wild and natural places and change the perception of those millions that simply see them as wastelands - we need to be seen not as "objectors" but as "proposers" giving out a message that we can have our wild places AND move towards a sustainable form of energy production.

  12. #32
    Mini Goon
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    "Wind farms"... "wind factories"... let's do get into semantics!

    These things don't "grow" wind, and they don't "manufacture" wind.

    We ought to be calling these things what they are ? which is power stations.

    The developers want to destroy our upland landscapes with power stations.

    They wouldn't apply to build nuclear power stations cos it'd be too controversial.

    They wouldn't apply to build coal or gas cos they'd be accused of building more polluting eyesores.

    Apply to build large-scale "green" power wands and everyone wants to go out and hug a tree to celebrate.

    But while you can argue the toss forever about whether they ever really do repay the emissions they cost to build, the fact is that they destroy the landscape ? and they do so in one fell swoop.

    They ruin peat moors and peat, like the rain forests, is one of the world's great carbon sinks.

    Peat helps absord all the poop we pump into the atmosphere - but what do we do?

    We build power stations on it, we burn it, we dig it up for our flower beds ... those of us who want to walk across it and admire the landscape in
    which it sits must really be in something of a minority.

    Wind power stations are believed to degrade upland bird breeding habitats, and represent a hazard for migratory flocks.

    I believe Cameron's dead right, by the way, to raise the issues of subsidies, the Renewables Obligations Certificate scheme, the efficiency of the turbines, the lack of long-term employment created and more.

    When large-scale wind power station applications started to be submitted south of the border more than a dozen years ago, the one thing we were told quite firmly when we started to fight them was that objections purely on the grounds of aesthetics just wouldn't carry water with the planners.

    We had to have valid objections that met the criteria laid down by the planning authorities as reasons for rejecting planning applications; usually aesthetics didn't, in those days, come into it.

    Now, me and Cameron have argued and will continue to argue about the comparative aesthetic values of lands north and south of the border (swap you two Ingleboroughs for one Suilven?) but if planners have no perception whatever about such things then wind power stations are going to have to continue to be fought in much more formal, measurable terms.

    "Please don't build a wind farm cos it's a lovely wee hill with an nice view" doesn't hold much water with men in suits.

    But "these things waste tax payers' money" ? "destroy Sites of Special Scientific Interest "? "negatively affect tourism" ? and "influence the way voters cast their votes" might make politicians reconsider the whole scene.


    Apols by the way... Monday morning rant slipped out there!

  13. #33
    Ultra King Dave Mycroft's Avatar
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    John I'll gladly take your one Suilven for 2 Ingleboroughs - quality over quantity ;-)

  14. #34
    Goon JH's Avatar
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    We had to have valid objections that met the criteria laid down by the planning authorities as reasons for rejecting planning applications; usually aesthetics didn't, in those days, come into it.......JM

    I think this is the big problem in Scotland. Whereas in England you can't throw a stick without hitting a piece of protected land, Scotland has vast tracts of unprotected land. I say this as somebody who lives on Exmoor and would happily swap it for the unprotected parts of Moidart, Ardgour, Morar, etc

    those of us who want to walk across it and admire the landscape in
    which it sits must really be in something of a minority.


    Without a doubt. Check the circulation figures of TGO vs the population of the UK.

    I believe Cameron's dead right, by the way, to raise the issues of subsidies, the Renewables Obligations Certificate scheme, the efficiency of the turbines, the lack of long-term employment created and more.

    Only if he backs up the statement. Anybody can say "this doesn't work", or "we need this", but nobody's going to win an argument just saying that. Much less a planning application. (That goes for your loss of peat bog statement too.)

    I seem to be the only person in this discussion backing up statements with external links (although Andy did provide a link). Opinions are all very well, and are worth listening to, but I want the facts to help me make up my mind on this.

    while you can argue the toss forever about whether they ever really do repay the emissions they cost to build

    "The average UK wind farm will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within three to five months ‚?? more quickly than coal and nuclear plants.
    Over its lifetime, a wind farm will repay this energy 50 times over."

    http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/sources...page16060.html

    I know, Iknow, it's those ******* at the dti. But actually, and no offence intended to anybody on this board, I would rather believe the dti than unsubstantiated opinion on this board.

    John

  15. #35
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    In general terms I'm pro wind power although don't want to see these things buggering up wild land and wild landscapes.

    I guess in many instances it would be difficult to work out whether a wind farm would be appropriate or not.

    But I am convinced that the Knoydart is definitely not the place for wind turbines.

    This is an area that is defining itself through its connection with wilderness. Have a look at the community company know owned by the community of Inverie. The very aims and objectives of this venture are defined in terms of the communities relationship with wilderness and their determination to protect it.

    Communities like this in Inverie have been able to take control over their own destiny as a result of one of the bets bits of legislation that this government has passed. It would be a crying shame if a community was empowered to find a new way forward using this only for the Scottish Executive to scupper things with the turbines!

  16. #36
    Goon
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    JH, I hope this might help. Apologies for the length of this post. I've had to break it in two.

    A study by ABS Energy Research in London paints a very different picture to the widely put about claim that wind factories, wind farms or wind power stations will greatly contribute to our future energy needs, at the same time as saving us from the dire consequences of global warming.

    "The actual savings in emissions are very low," said Euan Blauvelt, research director at ABS. "You can't alter the fact that wind blows at the wrong times and it blows intermittently," said Blauvelt.

    Unfortunately, power systems require a steady, balanced power source at all times, and, to counter the unreliability of intermittent wind strength, utilities have to carefully monitor and regulate the grid ? often with energy from fossil-fuel burning plants.

    The report goes on to say that this load balancing has "caused serious problems in Germany, Denmark, Spain and Portugal, and has drawn complaints from system operations in the Netherlands and Poland that have been affected by variable exports of wind-generated electricity."

    The paper concludes: "Given that experience is showing that savings in carbon emissions due to wind power may be considerably less than claimed, this calls into question the importance of wind power in environmental terms."


  17. #37
    Goon
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    Part 2

    The second dossier, from the Renewable Energy Foundation, a registered charity that funds independent research into renewable and alternative energy technologies and policy, claims to bring much needed clarity to the UK renewables sector.

    The main thrust of the report is that for most of the UK, wind power fails to generate its claimed return, and that when it does, the sites are very remote.

    A secondary argument addresses the assumption that the wind is always blowing somewhere and thus makes a worthwhile and useful contribution. In essence this is not true, claims the report. Power generation is subject to wide fluctuations countrywide and does little to help either the grid or to replace conventional generation.

    The report offers an assessment of how renewable generators up and down the country are performing. The data is published under five headings ? biomass, hydro, landfill gas, sewage gas and wind power ? but in the wind sector, far and away the most active of all the technologies at present, results vary enormously due to location.

    The capacities offshore are apparently encouraging, while onshore wind farms are generally only superior in locations very distant from the populations requiring the electrical energy.

    Using an analysis of Ofgem data, researchers have calibrated a model predicting how a large installed capacity of wind power built across the UK would actually perform. The project used Meteorological Office data to model output for every hour of every January from 1994-2006.

    The startling results show that, even when distributed UK wide, the output is highly volatile.

    Campbell Dunford, chief executive officer of REF, said: "This important modelling exercise shows that even with best efforts a large wind carpet in the UK would have a low capacity credit, and be a real handful to manage. This isn't the best way to encourage China and India to move towards the low-carbon economy.

    "As a matter of urgency, for the planet's sake, we need to bring forward a much broader range of low carbon generating technologies, including the full sweep of renewables.

    Wind has a place, but it must not be allowed to squeeze out other technologies that have more to offer."

    The Government's expectation is that three quarters of the 2010 renewables target, and the lion's share of the '20% by 2020' target will be made up of windpower.

    However, the research from the Renewable Energy Foundation offers predictions that are in keeping with Danish and German empirical experience and demonstrate the need for a broader spread of investment in the renewable sector, and that includes offshore wind power, biomass, wave and tidal power.


  18. #38
    Goon JH's Avatar
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    Thanks Cameron. I havn't come across ABS Energy Research before. I have come across REF though. Before I comment on them, let me say that whilst I'm not overly keen on wind power (because of siting and timing problems) compared to other alternatives such as wave and tidal, I think REF are exagerating the anti wind case. For what reasons I don't know.

    The [REF] data is published under five headings ‚?? biomass, hydro, landfill gas, sewage gas and wind power....REF

    To be found here:

    http://www.ref.org.uk/energydata.php

    but in the wind sector, far and away the most active of all the technologies at present, results vary enormously due to location....REF

    Yes, it's windier in some parts of the UK than others. No suprise there.

    Where my problem with REF starts is with the quote - "a large wind carpet in the UK would have a low capacity credit".....CD

    REF seem to have a problem with the low capacity factor of windpower, or at least. let journalists believe low capacity factor is the same as low efficiency.

    But more generally, I do agree that other renewables should be more strongly promoted.

  19. #39
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    I've also got some suspicions about the Renewable Energy Foundation. Isn't this the body that was founded by Noel Edmunds? It seems to have some funny ideas about renewable energy. Still, I'll have a look at the research papers there.

  20. #40
    Initiate DavidG's Avatar
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    The UK Energy Research Centre (who are charged with advising the Government on such things), suggest that those who believe that renewable energy is made much more costly, or is drastically limited by intermittency...

    "...are out of step with the vast majority of international expert analysis".

    http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/content/view/259/953


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